All men experience different levels of fatigue at different points in their lives. But at what point does fatigue level become abnormal? What can be done to treat it? We discuss that and more in a Q&A with Ryan Westbroek, FNP-C.
Q: What is the #1 ailment that brings men to your office?
A: Without question, it’s fatigue. That’s the biggest thing that drives men into the clinic. If fatigue is an issue, we check their thyroid and their testosterone. In most cases, excess fatigue is due to one of those two being “off.”
Q: Is there ever anything else that causes fatigue in men?
A: Sometimes men are deficient in Vitamin B or Vitamin D. Sometimes they suffer from depression or even sleep apnea. We can treat the vitamin deficiencies and depression right here in my office. If sleep apnea is the problem, we’ll usually refer the patient to Dr. Hammond or Dr. Piercey in Neurology.
Q: When does fatigue warrant a visit to a medical professional?
A: Consistent exhaustion in the afternoon can be a sign of excessive fatigue. If you can’t read a book without falling asleep, or if you doze off whenever you sit on a couch, or if you often feel tired while driving, come in and see me. We’ll get to the bottom of the problem.
Q: What most often causes fatigue in men?
A: Most often, men experience increased fatigue due to declining testosterone levels as they age. If we determine that testosterone is an issue, we can provide testosterone replacement for them. The patient can choose whether they want to receive that via application or injection. If low testosterone isn’t the issue, then it is most likely to be a thyroid problem – hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, or thyroid nodules.
Q: What is the difference between Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism, and thyroid nodules?
A: Hypothyroidism is a very common genetic disorder in which your thyroid simply doesn’t work well. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder in which your body actually attacks the thyroid. Thyroid nodules are unique in that they can stimulate or suppress your thyroid. If the nodule is larger than six millimeters, then we’ll take a biopsy to determine if it is cancerous. If not, then we’ll supplement your thyroid as needed. We’ll do an ultrasound on your thyroid every 12 to 18 months from that point forward, making sure that no cancerous nodules develop.